Sunday, September 11, 2011

US Trip: Day 9

Today was my grandmother's memorial. She died in early July, but it took my mother and aunts a few months to arrange everything. She had a very large circle of friends, so that even though she died in her mid-80s, nearly 200 people attended today. It was nice to see all her friends and hear about the impact she had on people, although I did not have the best time at the ceremony.

Little R was the only attendee under 18, and the facility was not at all child-friendly. There was nowhere to change or feed her, nowhere for her to rest/nap, and nowhere for her to play or sit, so I had to carry her the entire time. People wanted to hold her briefly or squeeze her (things she did not like), and complimented me on her looks, etc. But they did not offer any kind of useful assistance, like helping me amuse her, finding me somewhere to sit, helping me get food or drinks (getting food off a self-serve buffet with an active six month old in your arms is not possible, so I didn't eat or drink anything the whole time), etc. Even having someone hold the (heavy, non-automatic) door open for me as I tried to go through with a baby, a diaper bag, a pillow and a blanket was kind of a big deal. I am pretty resourceful, so I made it work, but I was totally exhausted by the end (it was a four-hour event).

An example of the day: Little R got tired and grumpy, so I made her a little area in a corner, and even got her to sleep there peacefully (I felt I deserved a medal for this given its difficulty), but after 20 minutes or so, was forced to wake her up for "liability reasons". (Of course I was watching her sleep, so she wasn't unsupervised or in any danger whatsoever.) As a result of this and other circumstances, all my time had to be focused on meeting her needs and keeping her happy. I wasn't really able to interact with anyone much, which is too bad because there were a lot of relatives there I hadn't seen in years.

On the upside: little R was quiet and well behaved, allowed many strangers to hold her, smiled politely at her admirers, and didn't bother anyone whatsoever, with noise or anything else. It just took an immense amount of work from me to make that happen.

The US is really child-unfriendly; it's quite a contrast to Singapore, where everyone wants to help amuse your baby and there isn't such a demarcation between children and the rest of society (meaning people are more used to the needs of children). I think part of the problem is that people don't help each other, especially with things like carrying or fetching objects, since you are supposed to be independent and do it yourself. (As opposed to Asia, where if you are carrying a lot of bags, it's typical for strangers to help you.) It must be really difficult to be disabled here.

I miss Singapore and am looking forward to being in my comfortable home in my nice little routine (which includes little R sleeping well). I guess it really is home now.

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